Thai junta chief gets called to do ice bucket challenge

The "Ice Bucket Challenge" fund-raising activity has gone viral in social media, to the extent that even junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been challenged to take the plunge.

Surabot Leekpai, aka PleUm Vrzo and the son of former premier Chuan Leekpai, poured freezing water on his own head and challenged Prayuth to do likewise.

Top executives who have already taken the challenge and made donations include Advance Info Service (AIS) chief executive officer Somchai Lertsutiwong, True Corp president and CEO Supachai Chearavonon, DTAC (Total Access Communication) CEO Jon Eddy Abdullah, Dell Asia regional director for Indochina Anothai Wettayakorn, and ARiP chief executive Pathom Indarodom - organiser of the annual "Commart Thailand" computer fair.

Pawoot Pongvityapanu - managing director of e-commerce operator Rakuten - Siwat Chawareewong, the CEO of digital marketing agency M Interaction, Thai Samsung Electronics content marketing manager Jakrapong Kongmalai, Google Thailand country manager Ariya Banomyong, and the company's marketing head, Pornthip Kongchun, have also taken part.

Meanwhile, celebrities taking the challenge include actor Jirayu Tangsrisuk (aka James Ji), actress Araya A Hargate, in addition to Ichitan Group chairman Tan Passakornnatee and former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt.

Social-media users follow and spread news about the activity in Thailand using the #IceBucketChallengeTH hash tag.

Started in the US, the "Ice Bucket Challenge" involves dumping a bucket of freezing water onto one's head to raise awareness and money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease.

In doing so, participants get an idea of how ALS sufferers feel, make a donation - and then have to challenge three other people publicly to do the same within 24 hours.

Among global celebrities who have taken part in the challenge are Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Gone viral

The campaign has now gone viral throughout Thailand's online community.

American writer and director James Gunn posted a video on Facebook of him pouring ice water on his head with the caption, "I answered the ALS Ice Bucket challenge laid down by Dave Bautista, Mikaela Hoover and Larry Fitzgibbon (AND I donated.) Now I challenge Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker and the entire country of Thailand! #ALSIceBucketChallenge".

In the video, he said he was currently in the Kingdom.

A similar campaign in the IT sector was kicked off in Thailand on Saturday by Isriya Paireepairit, co-founder of the tech blog Blognone.

The rules have been changed so that the participants can choose to donate to any charity.

Isriya made a donation to the crowd-funding website, which raises money for various social causes.

AIS's Somchai donated to the same website, while Abdullah chose the ALS Association and Operation Smile (Thailand) on behalf of DTAC.

Abdullah accepted the ice-bucket challenge from Pawoot Pongvitayapanu. He and DTAC employees took the challenge and made a donation to the two charities through the "Bright Smiles & Happy Hearts" campaign.

He then sent out challenges to Sigve Brekke, executive vice president and head of Telenor Asia operations, Nation Group chairman Suthichai Yoon , and all DTAC employees.

"DTAC participates in this campaign, as we have a strong commitment to society and see this challenge as a good activity that encourages people to donate to charitable organisations. Hence, we gladly accepted the challenge and passed it on to others in society," said Abdullah.

True's Supachai donated Bt1 million for the ALS Foundation and challenged four others: Kittisak Sriprasert, managing director of CAT Telecom; Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, executive vice president Singha Corporation; Google Thailand's Ariya; and Urassaya "Yaya" Sperbund, presenter of TrueMoveH.

Dell Asia's Anothai said: "No fear and no hesitation, I took a challenge from [Nation TV host] Prajya Aura-ek immediately for #IceBucketChallenge and I will donate US$50 [Bt1,592] to ALS Association for #StrikeOutALS."

Anothai challenged Somsak Pejthaveeporndej, president of The Value Systems (ECS Thailand), ARiP CEO Pathom Indarodom, and Dell Corp (Thailand) country manager Thaneth Angkasirisan.